Recent blog posts - WebSubstance - Web Design and Search Engine Marketing - Page 5

Password Security - Keep It Complex!


Are you a serious risk for account piracy?

If your passwords are things like “1234,” words like “password,” or simple things like your first or last name, you could be at the front of the line for all kinds of hacking and phishing that can easily get into your accounts and wreak havoc there.

Security experts at conferences often show how it's easy to unlock the passwords of significant portions of an audience, just by guessing. Too many of us don't make our passwords complex enough to really secure our data. Whether it's our bank accounts and online banking passwords, our web project access, our health accounts, insurance handling accounts or other online tools, black hats folks are able to steal access from us.

The Fine Line

Some of the major reasons that people get lazy on passwords is because they want to be able to remember those passwords when they click back in days or weeks later. But in some cases, having a weak password can be a lot worse than having to keep password information on hand.

Hackers generally use lexical dictionaries and other data resources to query a password until they get in. They can input a wide range of results, to blanket the system, in order to break the access barriers that are naturally there. Some people have tried to get around this issue by making small changes to their passwords, for instance, uppercasing a letter, or making letters into numbers within a word. The hackers have adapted, and even things like “PA55W0RD” may not be effective.

Real Security Tips

How do you really make a strong password? How do you make sure that you're not leaving the back door open to thieves? First, stay away from using unembellished, plain English words -- or even plain words in other languages. Simple words are very vulnerable, because they can easily be guessed.

To mix it up, add a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, or special characters like a dollar sign, an ampersand, an underscore, or certain kinds of punctuation. Just a few of these inserted into the mix can baffle cyberattackers. You can also use a mixture of numbers and letters, but try to do it in a way that's not logical or transparent. For example, a random two-number tag at the end of the password can add several orders of magnitude in terms of security.

At WebSubstance, we understand how to integrate security into vibrant web projects. Work with us to create sites that look good and work good, too, with common sense safeguards for the dangers of today’s Internet.

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Keep Refreshing Your Site All Year Round


Lots of us have had that heavy feeling – sitting around the holiday dinner table. You’ve simply eaten too much. You feel like you can’t take another bite – or another step. You’re done for the day. Time to go crawl into bed.

The Internet can be like that. Dense sites with too much topical material that’s difficult to digest are like that rich meal – someone’s throwing something at you all at one time, and it’s too much.

Making your site a great experience takes more than a simple list – it requires some dedication to design and web engineering.

Text Typography and Layout

Some ways that professionals get around a thick or dense site have to do with orienting text on the page. One of the simple commandments for content people is to use bullet lists -- instead of putting lists into “comma form,” which leads to bulky, hard to read paragraphs of close text, it’s often better to write these bits of text in a linear format, which adds whitespace and allows the eye to scan the page more easily.

Designers also alter logos and important bits of text, blowing up letters, creating neat visual shapes, or otherwise using layout to enhance the site.

Another strategy is short paragraphs -- rather than going on for lines and lines, it's better to create short sentences, hit return and move on.

Site Functionality

While good text layout is essential, good design and refreshing content goes well beyond that.

Some of it relies on a more broad-based design process. For example, someone creates a mockup on a piece of paper, showing how to create pages that don't look too crowded.

Then, an expert coder utilizes languages like HTML and CSS to put those ideas into real web code, so that a browser renders them the same way that they were dreamed up.

Adding Visuals

Another easy tip is to add visuals. Although this might sound like it's too simple or a bit of a cliche, it really is effective.

Take a look at any product and services web site that you really liked to click on and scan through. What do these sites have in common? Often, it's quality photography. Whether they use stock photography or their own images, companies that ‘import’ fresh, attractive snapshots of people or places into their sites tend to get a lot more traffic and a lot better retention of the page views that they do get.

Some companies go a step further and embed short texts pieces, like quotes or customer testimony, over top of the images.

All of this makes a web site a place that's “more fun to play in” -- and when you get right down to it, that's really one of the ultimate goals of good web design. You can build anything you want -- but the reader had better have fun while they're taking it in.

See our related blog post about typography

Let WebSubstance help to build a site that’s user-friendly, to keep readers coming back for more, not overwhelmed by bad user interface design. We know how to keep a web site looking fresh and how to keep readers engaged and entertained all the way through your site. And that can make all the difference.

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New Website for Accounting for Tech



Accounting for Tech provides accounting services and needed a professional and responsive website to replace their existing one.  The design was one of three themes from WS web solutions.  The site is editable by client, and has a contact form.  The layout of the content is clean and easy to read and downloadable documents are easy to find.  This new website will be a helpful tool to Accounting for Tech's clients.

Contact us today for any of the following services you may need:
•    Professional web development
•    Website design for mobile
•    Affordable SEO services
•    Creative graphic design services
•    Professional photography services
•    Web copywriting
•    Online shopping cart solutions

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New Website for Ernest P Chan


Ernest P Chan is a Computer Generated Artist and was in need of a new website to showcase his portfolio and resume.  Some of the features include: provide free software downloads, video online, rollover before & after on some images, 90% website content editable by client, and a contact form.  These new features will increase the performance of the clients website making it functional as well as visually appealing.

Contact us today for any of the following services you may need:
•    Professional web development
•    Website design for mobile
•    Affordable SEO services
•    Creative graphic design services
•    Professional photography services
•    Web copywriting
•    Online shopping cart solutions

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Is There A Buzz?


The Internet is like a beehive -- activity coalesces around shared goals and interests. Build a site that appeals to common interests, and you'll build organic readership that's going to trump anything that your SEO team can dream up.

Traditional Search Engine Optimization

As the Internet has evolved, companies have tried all kinds of things to get their sites better rankings and more page views. They scramble to adapt to Google algorithm changes like Panda and Penguin. They fill workshops full of people building the perfect 500-word page with tags, meta-descriptions and more. But not as many of them focus on the core issue of developing a site that people really want to use.

The Long-Form Content Battle

Now, a lot more companies, especially the big dogs with lots of analytical and marketing firepower, are starting to go with a different approach. They're building out editorial newsrooms and using new content methods to show real narratives, and really tell a story for their audiences. They're also cutting closer to the common interests of readers with skilled commentators, experienced testimony, and other forms of writing that show they are really relevant to what's happening today.

How Does It Work?

One example of investing in long-form content is to gauge the interests of the customer base and develop them. Let's take an easy example and look at an auto site. Someone selling auto parts or auto insurance, or anything car-related, can put up a set of carefully keyworded pages for each manufacturer and model type, hoping to garner high Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings. Or, they can take a reporter and go to a show room and have that person actually talk to dealerships and report on what he or she sees.

With the first approach, page rankings can get temporarily pumped up, and the company might get some accidental traffic with people typing hasty Google searches. With this second approach, this site starts to build an actual readership. Other company people can jump in to optimize social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. to start building out, to get more and more people interested in what the site has to say. It's important to know that social media is a great amplifier here -- it's no coincidence that more companies are taking a strong narrative approach now that they have social media departments that can post or tweet out anything that happens on their core web site.

How Do I Build a Good Site and Get Buzz?

Getting interest around your site starts with a creative approach, but it also necessitates good design work. At WebSubstance, we have experience getting a range of clients quality, high-design web projects that are “actionable” -- sites that the company can build on with social media expansion and everything else discussed above. Build your site work on a firm foundation by going with the company with a reputation for excellence in web design and coding, along with extra services like photography and site optimization. We’ll be your partners in constructing something useful and exciting on the web.

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Are Your Logos 'Responsive?'


Lots of us have got the memo about responsive web design and making sure controls are user-friendly, but not as many sites have great text. Top-level logos can benefit from some extra TLC, like stretching them into creative shapes, etc. That really draws the reader’s eye and makes a site stand out in the herd. Get this and more from WebSubstance…

When it comes to web design, it's often the little details that allow a site to stand head and shoulders above the competition.

By now, with the global Internet acting as a major e-commerce hub for more than a decade, most businesses have mastered the art of the 500-word page, and the basics of how to create a web menu. Likewise, with mobile commerce making up so much of the online landscape, companies are now migrating from the traditional HTML designs of laptop and desktop days, to dual-use sites that can present a project well on either a computer screen, or a smaller smart phone or mobile device.

Responsive Controls

Experts talk a lot about ‘responsive design,’ the need to make sure that all users have a good time on your site. Responsive design basically means making sites accessible for both computer and mobile device users. It means eliminating all of that crazy up-and-down and side-to side-scrolling, and creating controls that make sense when they're populated on a smartphone.

But in all that, you don't hear a lot about the role of text. Pieces of text need to be ‘responsive’ in an entirely different way. They need to create a response in the reader. And with so much clutter on the Internet, that's getting harder and harder over time.

Creating Great Logos

Logos and other short bits of text need to be built right to get attention.

So many companies are simply typing in page content, and maybe clicking on a headline 1 or headline 2 format for more important titles and headers. The text really isn't reaching out to readers. It doesn't have the great typography and layout that draws people in and makes the company look impressive online.

Creating great logos means making an eye-catching bit of text that doesn't conform to the standard fonts that you see all over the web -- Times New Roman, etc. How do you do this? You basically have to break out of the box, take each letter and make it an art form. This long list of examples at Awward will give you a good set of starter examples on real, innovative logo design -- for example, in many of these, specific letters are made into objects. In others, letters are tweaked, curved or stretched in a way that's different and catches the eye.

At WebSubstance, we understand that every element of your web site needs to be great. You don't just need responsive design and overall functions – you need style. That means every word and every image has to evoke a feeling in a reader. You don't just want to plunk down content, even if you have the best HTML/CSS design. Let WebSubstance help you with your web projects. Our experienced technicians and creative people will give you that one-two punch: a site that users can easily navigate, with straightforward controls and icons, but that also has a lot of curb appeal. Don't settle for less. Go with a firm that understands the real values of professional web design.

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Sites as Good as Your Brochures


Lots of companies spend big money on print media, from brochures to full-sized mailers, but their sites just don’t look quite as good, they don’t have that pizzazz. Get the best “glossy” high-design web site quality from WebSubstance --> This is so true and a lot of stuff will go online so the company needs to look good from head to toes (content, layout, navigation, etc.), the entire package.

Have you ever gotten a set of brochures or mailers back from the printer and just been blown away by the beauty of what you see on the page?

If you have a halfway good print service, you've probably marveled at all of the ways that print shops can make your company look good. Unfortunately, too many executives and business leaders haven't got the memo that the Internet offers the very same kinds of opportunities.

Too many websites look robotic or bureaucratic. They may be shrouded in various tones of gray, purple or blue. Images can be small and grainy. They just don't look like places you'd really want to be.

One of the biggest defenses of this is that ‘text takes center stage’ -- people without a visual philosophy of the web feel like people are just scanning the Internet looking for information, and they don't care what pages look like.
But at a very basic level, this just doesn't really make sense. Do you just throw shrink-wrapped pallets in a warehouse, turn on the lights and invite customers in, because they're only looking for specific kinds of products anyway? No, you make your stores look inviting and comfortable. That same principle can help you win at the web.

A ‘Glossy’ Web Site

Some of what we like the most about print media is how you can print high-resolution, bright, glossy pages of photos, where every face seems to be almost staring out at you in real life, where you can see the crisp contours of nature scenes, portraits, landscapes etc. almost as if you were right there.

Getting the same kinds of results on the web requires several things. First, you need a great photographer. No, not just somebody with the camera. The kind of person that you tap on the shoulder to take shots at your wedding. Someone who knows how to do composition just the right way, and capture little pieces of the world through the camera screen.

Then you need a web service and a set of web technologies that will display those awesome pictures the right way, utilizing the very advanced pixelation and color capabilities of our modern computer and mobile device screens. All of this together adds up to the kind of serene beauty you'd associate with some of the best print pages you've ever read.

Quality from Head to Toe

In addition to great photography, your site needs quality on all levels. It needs to look great, not just okay, and it has to work great too. This means excellent text layout (and dressing up text with creative fonts)  as well as image composition. It means great navigation tools that customers won't have to fiddle around with. It means no empty text boxes, weird control buttons in the wrong places, annoying web errors or dark text, or anything else that you'd associate with the primitive web designs of the 1990s.

Working with WebSubstance

At WebSubstance, we take a comprehensive approach to your web design. We make your web sites inviting places to be, sites that look as good as a well-designed brochure. We also offer this extra services that are going to really make your web sites take on a ‘human’ dimension -- for example, the kind of professional photography you need to make your face, or anything else, jump up off the Internet through the browser screen.

Don't settle for web sites that are just repositories of information. Get a web site that shows and tells your audience what you want them to know, in a way that they'll enjoy, so that they keep coming back for more.

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Sterling, VA 20164
(703) 470-0808
Jenny Le - President